Thursday, July 20, 1944

Sleep was fitful and I naturally woke up with the dawn. There was no sense staying in bed if I am already wide awake. I figured Livy would like to sleep in after a long trip and eventful yesterday. I said my morning prayers and headed for the bathroom. I stopped at Livy’s door and pressed my ear on the surface for any signs of breathing. There was no sound coming from her room. Doubt somehow threatened my resolve from checking the other side of the door.

Did all that really happen yesterday?

As I brushed my teeth I kept reasoning to the image staring at me in the mirror.

Might she have gone in the middle of the night and returned to Denver?

I immediately squashed the dreadful thought. No, she’s tired and is sleeping soundly in her room.

I hurriedly shaved and washed my face, all the while debating with my own thoughts.

What proof is there that she was here? Ah—the Bible.

There it was. I castigated myself for my skepticism. I’ll let her sleep through and get her much needed rest and quietly went downstairs to get my jacket. I headed for the barn and then to the Stewarts after.

The Stewart household was bustling in action. I saw the boys and Hank tending their morning chores at the barn. Hank handed me a crate of produce that they forgot to bring yesterday to church. I carried it to their kitchen and plopped down at one of the chairs in the dining room.

The house smells delicious, I suddenly became very famished. I supposed I didn’t really get to eat much yesterday. Martha pointed to the loaves of bread sitting on the table and told me to grab one for the house, she had baked them earlier that morning.

I was subjected to Ruthie’s unyielding questions about her new aunt. I told her she’ll have to be the judge of everything when she meets her in person. I think like me she had already painted a picture of Livy in her mind. It will be really good for her to have another female in the family and I really believe Livy will be a good aunt and friend to her.

I hurriedly returned home an hour later for I wouldn’t want Livy to wake up to an empty house. As I headed into the house, I saw a somewhat flustered Livy come out of the front door to meet me. I think she had not intended to have overslept this morning, I assured her that she needed it. We were unexpectedly interrupted by an overly enthusiastic Franklin. Boy, does he long for company (other than me) all right! Livy, doesn’t seem too eager to make the acquaintance yet. I wondered if she was ever around animals before. Just the same, she is all loveliness this morning.

She wanted to drive into town to make a call and tell her family she has arrived here. Of course, I felt guilty that I hadn’t thought of it first. Maybe the drive will be a good way to start all over. Somehow telling her I’d drive didn’t quite sit well with her for I saw a tinge of disappointed in her face. Maybe I came across as somewhat harsh for not letting her take the beetbox. She must be quite independent in the city and I have no qualms about her being so. I have decided to teach her how to handle the beetbox as well as get to know the farm and routes to and from town if time permitted it today.

I was quite excited to show her the farm and the town. I shall get books for both of us to read. I stole a glance in her direction and I found her quite contented watching the countryside go by as we drove. I now wonder if she’s still vexed at me for coming along on this trip. Although I get this feeling that she would rather spend this first week apart from each other, I think I am quite reasonable to suggest that I would accompany her to town for the first time. The farms are situated far and wide around here that one could get easily lost.

Unlike yesterday, I initiated a conversation with her, asking a few questions and interspersing it with introductions to significant places that I felt she’ll want to get familiarized en route to our destination. I felt that I’ve quite accomplished my determination to be more talkative around her. She didn’t say much but I’ve learned some things about her. I was delighted that she showed some interest in the crops that we grow in the farm. She was very kind to offer some help but I felt in her current condition that would not be a good idea. I graciously turned her down and suggested that there are plenty of things to do in the house. After sometime, I somehow felt that she’s not up to talking any longer. We drove in silence until our arrival in town.

We parked in front of the telephone stall and I offered her some change but she declined. Somehow I detected a tinge of irritation from Livy – or did I just imagine it? I dismissed it as she seemed very anxious to make her call and I must be detaining her for it. I went ahead to the library located just across the street to give her some privacy.

I must confess that it’s been a while since I’ve visited the library. There are only a few books that I have in mind. I made a beeline over to the cooking section and picked up a couple of easy cookbooks for Livy. I then went on the family section and started my perusal of the books they have there. There were quite a selection, I did a quick sweep of the titles and one caught my eye – Getting Prepared for Baby. I think this would appropriately address the many questions I have in my mind without making it more complicated as it is. Maybe later on as we progress in the pregnancy, I’ll get another book. I dropped the books on the counter and was flustered when the lady had asked me if we were expecting. I felt joy and pride overcome me and a hint of self consciousness within the public place. I glanced around and saw Livy through the window. We will be a family and the mother of my child, yet I hardly know her. It reminded me of my urge to know more of her and I asked the librarian assistance in finding the book Livy had used for her thesis in graduate school. By the time I gathered what I’ve checked out and headed towards the door, I almost bumped into Livy. She wanted to check the library as well. I just had to stow the books behind the truck and head on to the mercantile store to pay my store credit. I returned to the library to find Livy had decided on two cookbooks, I went to the counter to check those out. I was glad that she didn’t have to come with me, as she was held up at the periodicals section, for I wouldn’t know how she would react if the lady mentioned about expecting in front of her.

By the time we left the library, it was almost noon and I broached the subject of lunch. I directed her to the nearest diner around the corner and we got ourselves good seating by the window. I was concerned that she hardly touched her food last night and I supposed she hadn’t taken any breakfast and must be starved by then. I insisted that we order dessert and had her pick her choice, however, she won’t agree unless we share one – she said half of it will just go to waste if she tried to order one for herself. We enjoyed the fruit tart she picked from the glass pedestal on the counter. As we talked and yes- laughed at times – I found myself mesmerized by the way she chews her every bite of food. I’ve never seen such gracefulness in such a basic task as eating, it is hard not to admire her more each day.

As we headed home, I glanced over to Livy and saw her enjoying the warm breeze hitting her face through the open window. She had a smile on her face. I stopped the truck and as expected knew she’d asked why. I smiled as I began to get off the truck. I told her to move over for we have time for her to learn to drive the beetbox. She thought I was kidding but I was halfway around and opening her side of the door and she was forced to move over to the driver’s seat. I felt her apprehension as I learned that she drove her father’s Oldsmobile Hydramatic which had automatic transmission. The beetbox may be a ‘cranky’ at times but one just had to adjust to it and it will prove to be a very reliable truck. She was a fast learner. After only a few reminders to shift gears, which she wasn’t used to, she got the transmission and the foot pedal to a good rhythm. I enjoyed seeing her laugh, I felt I scored some good points with her. I proceeded to instruct her about special tricks about the truck most especially concerning the gas gauge. God forbid she neglects to realize that it’s out of gas. I always bring an extra gas can just in case.

As we drove past the south field, she noticed and was surprised that we employ Japanese workers in the farm. She seemed quite fascinated and I explained to her how we came about working together. Now that this is our farm, I have to share and teach her more things about it one day at a time.

I think I shall rate this day as a big improvement from yesterday. Although our day was a mixture of good and not so good times, I am hopeful that it will get better for we had more good times today. We earned some memories and we’ve learned a bit of what each other was like. I have to declare that I close this day as a man more captivated by his wife.


Wednesday, July 19, 1944

I have finally met Olivia.

She walked in the room as the Reverend introduced us to each other. Our eyes met and she looked down. I felt my face grow hot and I instinctively gripped the brim of my hat tighter as if that gesture alone would keep me from falling over.

It had been a hot day. I worked all morning around the farm and hadn’t the appetite to take any food. I had wondered if I had caught the sun when I reached out and shook her hand for I cannot believe the sight standing before me.

She was incredibly beautiful. I cannot believe my eyes. Certainly Reverent Case must have been mistaken and picked the wrong girl from the station. Not one single thought, save probably the eyes, of what I have imagined her to be had matched the Olivia in my mind.

She wanted to be called Livy, somehow that nickname suits her more. She’s graceful and modern. A bona fide city girl. Genuine fear had swiftly set in for a new question had just hit me. Will she change her mind about marrying me? I couldn’t think straight, it was all happening too fast, my mind churned thoughts in lightning speed that it had rendered me speechless in front of her. I was just chastising myself for not using any of my practiced opening lines for her when I heard Mrs. Case saying something about pouring Livy some lemonade.

I was caught in Livy’s scent. She smells like my Mother’s spring flowers in her garden. It was too familiar and intoxicating that it was a welcome break to step away from our proximity to each other. I headed for the table and frantically thought of ways to salvage this meeting and regain normal breathing. I guess it had not registered how the last few minutes had me totally undone until I heard the clinking of glasses as I poured the lemonade. We are now by ourselves. Lord help me.

I was in front of her again and have tried to look anywhere but her. This must have annoyed her for I became conscious that I still have not said a word. What was wrong with me? Looking at her was purely distracting, I was just trying to avoid this so that I can think clearly. We do not have much time and I have not redeemed myself from a certain negative first impression.

She broke the awkwardness between us and called me Mr. Singleton. I had to correct her. I don’t have to be reminded of the disparity between our ages and addressing me as such made me feel so much older than her.

When she asked me if I had any doubts about her, it gave me a hint of hope for I had thought she exuded a certain confidence in her all this time. However, it confounded me how she could think that I had any when in fact I think I should be the one who needed to ask her this question. For once, let her not have any misgiving as to how I felt about marrying her. I firmly replied in an instant but I had to know if she did indeed have any about me. She answered in the negative. I was relieved and said a quick mental prayer of thanks.

Then she wanted to know if I will be able to love the baby. Although I understood why she would ask this, I still had the feeling that she was testing me. Of course, the baby is the easiest part of this whole arrangement. It is easy to love someone whom you know will unconditionally love you back without question. I tried to answer her promptly as a way for me to show my sincerity but my mind must have been oxygen deprived that I struggled to even utter intelligible phrases at her.

There were too many long pauses in our conversation that she finally inquired if I had anything I wanted to ask her. I made an effort to turn this around in my favor and I tried to find my voice. Of course the only thing that really came out was the thought that was knocking at the back of my mind- that she was so fine that I can’t believe any man would leave her for this. Our eyes had fixed on each other. Those eyes, the ones I tried to avoid earlier, mirrored pain equal to that of what I have been familiar with for such a long time. It brought up a feeling deep within that my immediate impulse was to protect her at that very moment.

I think this somewhat broke the awkwardness between us. My statement had unsettled her. She started to sneeze and I had offered her my handkerchief. Her eyes are my window and I immediately sensed that there’s more to her than meets the eyes. She is a strong girl and she is determined not to cry in front of me. I wanted to comfort her but did not quite know how to approach her. In the middle of all this, we both managed to give each other a smile.

We had reached an impasse. As soon as she had calmed down, I gestured for us to head to church. We entered it with 4 sets of eyes on us. I was unsure if we’d taken too long that they had doubted our coming at all.

The ceremony was short but effective. At least to me it was. I had forgotten to mention about the ring to Livy and I had regretted this. When Reverend Case asked for it, I was a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. It’s not my nature to lie either so I admitted that I didn’t have it with me. I felt bad for Livy for even if she said she didn’t need one, I somehow felt I had let her down right there.

As we stood side by side in front of Rev. Case, his words rang in my head. I vowed to stand by those words said in front of God – that by our sacred bond, we promised to give hope when there is sorrow, strength when there is weakness, faith and understanding when there is confusion and doubt. I wouldn’t need a ring to remind me of these words, it will be forever impressed upon my heart.

I became a married man.

When the Reverend had pronounced us, it had hit me that this part of the ceremony required a kiss. I self consciously glanced at her and she at me. I think the Reverend comprehended it and moved on. I don’t think it called for one in our present situation but I still had to banish the thought of how her skin would feel on my lips if we had. I wrestled with my emotions that I neglected to introduce my relations to Livy. I’ve been reduced to a bungling idiot. I was glad there would be an end somehow to this day and I will start anew tomorrow.

The drive was quiet. Living alone did not require a conversation and I have gotten used to the solitude of being lost in my own thoughts. I resolved to improve this for I am no longer by myself, I now have Livy. The sound of the glass lid of the casserole, which sat in between Livy and I, comforted me. I am finally taking her to our home. I tried to contain myself from the excitement brewing beneath my skin. I can’t wait to show her the house. I tried to maintain a calm demeanor. She did ask me who our neighbors were. I never thought about neighbors for I grew up without them. We had acres and acres of land around us that the next one is eight miles away and that was still family land. Never once did I realize how isolated this farm was until now.

Welcome home. I told her this before she stepped inside. I finally recovered from my dream like state and recalled one of the few phrases I had rehearsed earlier today. She gave me a look I couldn’t quite comprehend. She must have realized then that I do have a voice and that I am a man of few words.

I feel more at east when I am home. In all the uncertainty of our future, this is one piece that I am confident about. Suddenly I found my old self as I showed her around the house. She looked bewildered when I told her that the nearest phone was in town rather than in the house. Tonight had been a box of revelations for I sorely underestimated plenty of things that would have made her smile. Somehow the hot water, the co’colas in the icebox or the size of her bedroom or the fact that we really had a library in another town did not elicit any excitement from her. Denver wouldn’t be called a city if it weren’t modern indeed. I can only think that she is overwhelmed by all of this and the Reverend’s words resounded in my head. I resolved to be patient for I know time will be in our favor and we will be able to overcome every awkward moment.

If our time during supper was any indication of how our lives would be in the days ahead, I can very well describe that at that moment it was very bleak. I can truthfully say that I did try but it did not pass our attention that we have not discovered one single point that we can call our common factor. One can only say that I married a woman from another planet. She must feel the same way about me. Given that I have known ahead of time that she had plenty of schooling, it had not occurred to me that even if I had tried to make a sensible comment or opinion about a topic, my ignorance of it will still show to my disadvantage. How am I going to reach the level at where Olivia is at this moment? I wondered.

I have to make a mental note to remember the name of the archeologist she mentioned tonight. Sometime this week maybe I’ll take her into town and visit the library. We’ve also a need for cook books for I learned she cannot cook. I personally do not mind putting in my share of cooking in the house. However, I feel she would want to learn for she will be on her own most of the day at home.

As it was tradition, I had flipped to the marriage page of the Bible and carefully wrote our names on the next line after Martha’s. It somewhat provided me some kind of consolation from the dismal evening we just had because it was now tucked within the pages of a sacred book. Proof that ‘we’ had happened today, that we became man and wife in front of God. I prayed over it and had asked for continued blessing of our union, said a prayer of thanks and promised to look forward to a better day tomorrow.

I was interrupted when I heard soft sobbing from across the room. I quietly approached the room. I stood at the door for what felt like eternity. My knuckles were pale as white while I tried to muster the courage to knock but instead I listened to her crying and my heart reached out to her. I remembered her asking me this evening why I had agreed to such an arrangement. I have told her the truth but maybe it was not enough or maybe it hadn’t made sense to her. I felt miserable that I may be the cause of her pain, I never intended to give any of this to her. I cannot possibly give her comfort knowing this so I turned around and returned to my room. I sat in bed and listened till it was all quiet again, Livy had finally fallen asleep. I assured myself that I should give ourselves a period of adjustment and that I will try my best to make it an easy one for her. I will do everything in my power to make her happy here.


Tuesday, July 18, 1944

I spent the majority of the day cleaning the house. I think I’ve never scrubbed as hard ever before but I want Olivia to feel at home and the house like new for her. I really wished I had time to paint the inside of the house but feel it is still fine. I’ll let Olivia decide should she want to color the white walls.

I was just brushing my teeth when I remembered that I needed to wear a suit for the ceremony tomorrow! I had then spent about a good half hour trying it on and brushing it clean. It’s a good thing I still had one decent shirt that I re-ironed. Why I did all this, I cannot possibly explain for I only own one good set that I always wear every Sunday to church. Naturally, my thoughts had wandered to the ceremony and then to a sinking realization that I had forgotten to find Mama’s ring –the ring! I had half scrambled and tumbled down to the cellar and frantically tried to remember where I had stashed Mama’s jewelry box when I suddenly recalled that it was one of the items I’ve set aside, as with Pa’s watch. It’s in a shoebox up on the closet shelf in the bunk room. I sat in the closet and contemplated on the ring…will she like it or hate it? Will she get upset that I had presumed she’d want a ring or would she rather that she pick her own or maybe that’s not an important thing for her. How should I know this? It is now giving me a headache, I returned the ring in its place and will decide what it will be tomorrow. I wish I had remembered it earlier, now I won’t have time to decide as to its fate but I would be ideal if Olivia can wear my Ma’s ring. I am sure she would love to pass it along to her.

I have to admit, this unexpected exercise gave me a rush of energy but my nervousness combined with the exhaustion had finally caught up. I must sleep now or I will miss my own wedding. Before that I must also remember to at least wind Pa’s clock for good luck and to not fall asleep before I can say my evening prayers. Easing my nervousness does little to help me when the realization finally dawns that I will be a married man tomorrow. What future holds for me and Olivia?

Monday, July 17, 1944

July 17, Monday

I went into town to buy farm supplies and last minute sundries. Before heading back home I had stopped by the General Store to get some co’colas. I think a city girl expects to find these in their icebox. It will go well with Mrs. Pratt’s chocolate cake.

The cleaned curtains are up and the kitchen and back screen doors now painted. I tested it by leaving the doors open all afternoon to air the house out while I surveyed the front yard – I sighed -- well that’s one thing that will just do for I have no clue how I’ll make this even close to presentable to Olivia. I’ve devoted my allotted time just getting the inside of the house in order and that was plenty enough to give me nights of sound but exhausted sleep.

Sunday, July 16, 1944

I received a chocolate cake from Mrs. Pratt during the church potluck today. Martha suggested I don’t share it with them this time and keep it whole for Olivia on Wednesday. I agreed. Next week, I’ll be coming to church with Olivia, I look forward to finally having someone attend services with me.

Rev. Case set me aside after the services and we talked about Wednesday when Olivia arrives. I am to come to church around 1pm and wait for her arrival there. He inquired how I’ve been doing these past few weeks and I had divulged some of the things I’ve done to the house to accommodate her. I didn’t mention that I am a bit nervous now that he’s confirmed the events with me but I believe this did not escape the pious Reverend. He patted me on the back and warmly shook my hands. It felt like I could have shared this moment with my own Pa but I quickly put the thought out lest I turn sentimental in front of Rev. Case. I am sure my parents are happy about this union, I know they are, for I am also quite a changed man these past few weeks.

Thursday, July 13, 1944

Yesterday, Martha and Ruth came by just as I was finishing up on the last box that’s headed for the cellar.

She gave me much needed suggestions about what else need to be done to the house. I must say it had not crossed my mind yet as to how I was going to deal with our sleeping arrangements next week. There is now a joke from Hank that maybe I was thinking of putting Olivia in the bunk next to me. I believe I always thought that she’d take Martha’s room but Martha’s suggestion did make sense that she make use of our parents’ bedroom. We’ll have to take this relationship one day at a time, we have plenty of time to know each other but I hope it won’t take a lifetime to be at ease with one another. My parents’ bedroom is quite the right size, not too small or too big, and it faces the front of house which gives it more sunlight during the day than the other rooms in the house. I’ve also cleared more furniture from the living room. I am so used to seeing this room with all of the things in it that it never occurred to me that it’s quite cluttered. It now contains only a few pieces that we think is necessary for now.

The ladies employed themselves with cleaning and arranging the things in the kitchen. This will probably be Olivia’s favorite room in the house and so I hope she will find everything in it the way she likes it to be. They left today with all of the curtains in the house. It was getting late and she needed to prepare supper for the family. I am to get them back on Sunday when we see each other at church.

The barn residents have been unhappy with me this week. Matilda is quite put out with me for being unable to milk her yesterday. I think the house is ready for Olivia. Except for some dusting and fresh cleaning the day before she arrives, I think I am in good shape and I will have to pick on other areas I’ve neglected since. It’s good to get back to my routine and relieve my mind about thinking of her for I am a bit feeling anxious now that the day of her arrival is looming, next week my life will turn in a whole new direction.

Friday, July 7, 1944

It has been another busy week. I did not even have one second of regret or complaints about the craziness that transpired here this week, it’s actually quite exhilarating. I’ve never been fueled with such enthusiasm. Suddenly I am seeing the house in a different light instead of just a roof over my head and a place to sleep, it’s now looking and feeling like a home – a home I can share with someone. The bathroom project, though finished not without setbacks, went quite smoothly with the help of Hank. The days we labored on this seemed to have quickly passed for Hank never disappoints you with his jovial disposition and entertaining stories. I believe it’s been a while since I’ve remembered laughing as much as this week.

The pipes I later discovered cannot be put in behind where the sink used to be, which is right next to the toilet. We now had to move the sink to the left wall of the bathroom so we can run the pipes on that side of the house. This way it will be on the same side as the line that supplies the kitchen sink. Maybe later on I can also have hot water running in the kitchen as well. Overall, I think it’s been a good move and Hank’s agreement in the idea gave me confidence that I am planning for future improvements rather than just a fix for the current situation.

Also this week I was able to repair the doors on the back and the side of the kitchen. Since these do not have the protection of an eave or awning, it’s seen better days. I’ll also have to put in new screen doors so the doors can be left open to bring in fresh air during the hot summer months. This will be a project for next week for I needed to get more supplies from town.

I did come into town on the 4th to partake in the annual barbeque and town gathering. There Martha expressed her wish to come by the following week to check on our progress and to help me with the cleaning. I am sure she’d like to also see how I am doing on it, but frankly I am glad that she volunteered for I feel this is one of my failings. It would really help to see a female point of view for I feel, besides what I’ve already listed, the house to me is fine as it is.

It seems that three weeks was plenty of time but now it’s coming down to a little over a week before her arrival, I think I have to double my effort so I can do all there is to do around here.


Sunday, July 2, 1944

As is usual on Sunday afternoons, I usually stay at Hank and Martha’s for tea and snacks or sometimes stay longer for early supper. I call it my adult conversation day as compared to my daily barn yard talk with the animals at the farm. Hank and I usually exchange ideas, talk about the weather and take a relaxing time reading the newspaper. When I stay for supper, I would mostly end up playing cards with the boys. I can’t help wonder how much the boys had grown this summer. Hank Jr and Chester do remind me a lot of Daniel and I, except that they are less troublesome than we were at that age. I think Martha had learned not to repeat history by regulating her boys. It’s not that we were totally ill-behaved lads but we did have the run of the farm. Our age gap was not a hindrance to our fun, we somehow just complemented each other with it. I think the freedom we had was what had made Daniel the outgoing type and I turned to my usual reserve as the protective older brother to him. We have plenty of good memories between us and because of this, we were the tightest of brothers till the end. I hope that Martha’s boys will have the same devotion to each other as well.

Today, I sat with Martha and Hank around the table having tea. Tea is somewhat of a tradition being that Mama and Pa used to do this many a Sunday afternoons at home, we somehow found a need to keep this going after they passed on. Over tea, we would have Mrs. Pratt’s cake of the week. I still wonder why she bakes me such a huge one practically every week. I’d share it with Martha and still have plenty left to take home.

My niece Ruth, who is the oldest of the brood and growing up very much like Martha these days, have started to join in our conversations as well. Being the firstborn child and first niece of the family, she’s quite attached to me and I to her. Wasn’t it just yesterday that she’d sit on my lap and carefully color her book I got for her from the general store while I have tea with Martha and Hank? Well now she’s sitting beside me trying to be part of our conversation. Excitedly she asked me:

“Uncle Ray, can I be a bridesmaid at your wedding?” I was quite stunned by her question.

“Uh- a bridesmaid?” I must have sounded like a deaf person even when she had asked that 10 decibels higher than normal.

“Ruth, you can’t invite yourself to be a bridesmaid, don’t be rude baby” Martha interrupted Ruth’s statement.

I looked at Martha. I guess my eyebrows shooting up made her realize I needed an explanation.

“Ruthie here had overheard us talk about the wedding the other day and so now she is just absolutely thrilled about your getting married soon.” Martha clarified. “Believe me, you won’t hear the last of this, she can’t stop asking about who your bride is going to be, what she’s like, where she’s from, -“

“Yeah Uncle Ray, who is she? Did I ever meet her before? How old is she? –“

All her other questions were a blur, I didn’t quite expect that she would find out so soon or that how many people might also know about my arranged marriage before it actually happened. How am I to answer questions like these? I was suddenly in quite a panic, I stood up and went to the stove to fetch some more hot water.

Martha had shushed Ruth and asked her to go check on her brothers. She left the room quite disappointed, I somehow felt bad seeing that look on her. I guess I’ve always had a special spot for her in my heart.

“I am sorry Ray, I know you didn’t expect that, I was surprised myself. I thought it was best to let them know after the fact but it was an accident she found out. I’ve talked to her about this being a secret for now. You don’t have to worry about it going outside of the family – unless if you don’t mind…?” Martha was sincerely apologetic.

“I was caught unaware, yes. I guess I didn’t really think about this until now. I myself do not mind it but I tend to think that we should be careful for the sake of Olivia, who might not like the idea that the town knows she’s been arranged to marry me.” Martha and Hank nodded in agreement.

There was a long silence, we all were contemplating on any unfortunate consequences. Hank broke it by volunteering to assist me in any way he could around the house. He’s coming over to help me start the bathroom repair. It’s great to have some help for I need it for the weeks to come.


Friday, June 30, 1944

It’s the last day of the month. Time flew, I barely have two weeks left. I haven’t been able to write since I started my preparation for the coming of Olivia. The days and nights have been long, I now wonder if I’ll be able to finish them all before her arrival. I am only able to work on the house after my day at the farm and I look forward to this weekend when I can devote more time to this.

I came from town to buy the materials for the bathroom renovation. The last two days I’ve spent moving my parents’ personal things to the basement trying to clear the house down to the basic necessities. I did not realize how much work this was going to be for I had filled up a few boxes already and these were just from my parents’ bedroom. Add this to the time spent down memory lane when I discovered that my Ma was indeed the subtle collector. She had things hidden in many a nook and cranny. I felt like I was ten years old again, digging up treasures and making up a story behind an object. I wonder if she did that on purpose. It’s a shame that it took me this long to find these, once her special possessions, because I’ve been quite diligent dwelling in my own grief these past few years.

Once I clear their things away, Olivia will be able to put her own personal touch to the house. I just hope that she will respect the fact that it was once my parents’ home. Hopefully in time, I’ll be able to share these with her.

I found my father’s watch the other evening and I had unconsciously wound it. The ticking somehow gave me comfort. I so miss Pa. There are certain things that I can’t put in a box for now.

There are times when I can’t wait for the day that Olivia and I will meet so I can quell the anxiety that plague me everyday but there are also moments when I feel I’ll be leaving this part of my life, my parents and Daniel, their memory prematurely reduced to boxes stored in our basement. Most of the time I fear what lies ahead for me. How will life with her be for years to come? What am I putting myself into? Olivia grew up in a different environment than I did. She studied extensively and had a lot of schooling, I wonder how I am going to balance this difference in lifestyles. The farm may not meet her expectations but I hope she will approve of its humble existence. For now I should not expect so much from her. I doubt my parents would have predicted the way I would be married and I wonder what their opinion would have been were they still living.


Tuesday, June 27, 1944

Even before I had expressed my consent to Reverend Case and during the week that I was contemplating the proposal, my mind had been making a mental list of things I needed to do in preparation for Olivia’s arrival. It seems that subconsciously I had already known in my heart that I will accept such an arrangement even before my mind had made rational thoughts and laid out an explanation of what I am about to embark on.

Yesterday when I came back from Martha’s I had sat down and started to put down the things I had thought that needed attention in the few weeks to come. First off my list is to install hot and cold water inside the house. I’ve never minded this type of amenity when I lived on my own but thinking how Olivia might take the lack of what may be a city-bred necessity may also not bode well for a pleasant start to our married life. I’d have to make another trip to town to get the materials for this project. I went upstairs to the bathroom and surveyed the walls and planned for the improvement. I am glad that when Hank had installed theirs a few years back, I had learned what needs to be done to accomplish this task. It is also a big help that we have indoor plumbing to begin with and I figured this will probably take me a week to do considering the amount of work I have in the farm as well.

I went from room to room to inspect what needs to be done in each one. I have not made any changes to the house. This house pretty much is still my parents’ house, everything and anything in it are still where they have left them. I’ve not bothered to move or store anything of theirs nor Daniel’s, the presence of such material things belonging to them gives me an inner assurance that they are here with me even if they’ve gone on to the next life. It also gives me some kind of normalcy amidst their absence and it’s a constant reminder of their existence and love for the farm and family.

Downstairs, I really do not need to do much. I doubt that I can put fresh paint on the walls. I am sure my laundry list will not allow me to have the time to do that. I’ll probably just be able to give it a good wipe down to make them less worn looking. Indeed now that I actually looked, I’ve noticed that I’ve neglected the state of the house for years.

My work at the farm is quite tedious and coming home to an empty house does not encourage me to be bothered with cleaning on a regular basis. Besides, how much mess can one person do to a house anyway? Well now, I realized that I have turned a blind eye to domesticity all this time, now that I’ve appraised the condition did I realize how badly the house needed some care. It’s good that I am getting married for the house really needs a woman’s touch to it.

I went out to the front porch and saw the sad state of what used to be my mother’s flower bed. It’s overgrown with weeds, grass and dried plants and the soil is in need of watering. I shook my head and thought –“So you call yourself a farmer, Ray?”

The list is still growing. I am glad I have workers to help me at the farm. I am indeed blessed with an able foreman this year that I rarely have to supervise or watch their progress. I have learned to respect the Japanese group of men and women who come to the farm to help. They are not only hard working people but also possess a very strong work ethic inspite of their condition caused by the war.

Tonight I can’t help but create a mental picture of how Olivia would look like and how she would belong in this house. I’ve pictured her homely but smiling and good at cooking and keeping the house. I hope being a Reverend’s daughter would also indicate that she have a strong faith in the success of our marriage. I am quite afraid of what’s ahead for us but at the same time I can’t help but feel some anticipation in my heart.


Monday, June 26, 1944

I’ve never woken up feeling so sure about a decision. In bed last night, I had thought about Olivia – quite a lot. The problem was that all this time I’ve been thinking about how I felt about this arrangement but never did it occur to me that I am not the only one involved in this situation. There is another person who also had feelings and opinions of her own. I do not know her now or her exact feelings about this but thinking from her perspective may have been the sign I’ve been praying for all week long. I am no knight in shining armor or a champion who saves her from all her troubles but I do feel this was given to me because I can do something about it.

I am never the person who puts everything to chance. My way of life requires that I plan for the future and prepare for any curveball that may come my way, of course not without plenty of prayers as well. However, these past few years, we’ve been plagued by death in the family. It’s something you cannot predict nor plan for. It’s devastating and confining that at times you feel the light will never come back to your world. I think it’s time to breathe some life back to it. The baby needs a family when it enters this world, I believe it should be given a chance for a promising beginning and a happy future.

As for Olivia, it’s difficult not to paint a picture of how she will be as my wife but I cannot help wonder at times. I try not to expect too much. I attempt not to dwell with the fact that she was slighted by the fellow who put her in her current situation. I may never know the reason but I hope to God that we’ll both strive to make it work between us. I am in this for the long haul for I know now it is God’s will. Just the reality that we somehow were arranged to cross paths notwithstanding our distances and our way of lives are already short of a miracle on its own. It is also encouraging to note that even at this time before we even meet, we already have something in common in that we both lost someone very dear to our hearts. That alone is the sign that is worth making this positive decision.


After working in the fields today I drove to town and met with Reverend Case after supper. I wanted to save him the trip to my farm tomorrow to accept his proposal. This way, he wouldn’t feel like he had pressured me into agreeing to a favor but that I have come to it on my own accord. He was very pleased and so was Mrs. Case. She couldn’t stop smiling. They offered that I stay for supper but I declined. I am glad that everything is moving forward now. I stopped by Martha’s on my way home to tell them the news. Olivia is coming in three weeks’ time, I have so much to do to prepare for her arrival.


Sunday, June 25, 1944

I went to Martha’s and we all went to attend service. Mrs. Pratt gave me all her usual attentiveness at the potluck. She handed me a lemon cake made from the basket of lemons I gave her the other week.

I also met Dennis, an old time friend from elementary school. He runs the local pharmacy in Wilson. When we were in school, he always excelled in all our subjects, he could have been a doctor if their finances only allowed him to pursue it. I’ve always thought him an academic and that he’ll never settle down till he was old and gray. He came back from active duty a few months after Daniel died in Pearl Harbor and met a girl in California when he made a lay over there on his way back to Denver. The girl, now his wife, came here last fall and they are now expecting a baby. They look so happy together that I felt a pang of regret for not securing a life like theirs at my age.

I had an excellent time. Sundays are usually the only day of the week that I get to mingle with my friends and neighbors. I’ve lived here all my life and these people are now like family to me. The war had brought the residents closer and we have shared our hopes and fears. It is comforting to know that even if the farm is situated at the far end of town, I’ve never felt isolated here. However, I now feel that the farm is too big for one person and I do need someone to help me run it.

Until I spoke to Reverend yesterday, she has occupied my mind more so now that I have her name - Olivia. The name itself holds me in fascination. How does she look like? Why didn’t she get married? Was she not worth marrying? Will she be a willing party to this marriage? Will we be compatible and learn to know each other willingly? I have so many questions I wish I can have answers before I come to my own decision. It’s not that the Reverend gave so little information, in fact, I probably know about her and her family more than what Olivia would be willing to divulge in my presence. I realize that I alone will be able to provide the answers to these questions, not even the Reverend can provide me the assurance that I want.

I think I know what my answer will be but I’ll give it one more day. I’ve been praying hard for this and I’ve been writing in a flurry this past week. Writing my thoughts down does help me sort my thoughts out. My mind’s been cluttered but yet I wonder how Olivia is feeling at this very moment. Is she as unsure and scared as I am about this?


Saturday, June 24, 1944

I think my mind had been so bothered lately that last night I had such a vivid dream. It was so clear and bizarre that I am writing this before I forget and before I make my morning coffee.

In my dream Martha was with child once again. I am laughing as I write this for she’s always said that three was her number, just like we were. That is why I know it will be almost an impossibility that she will be in the family way again. Yet, in my dream it was not anything close to strange but it felt so normal there. We were at the Sunday potluck when her water broke. I immediately sprang into action as though I’ve delivered babies all my life. I got Mrs. Pratt to boil some water and I had ripped all the cloth covers from the tables for Martha to lay down. I instructed Hank through the process while I soothed and assured Martha that all will be all right. The baby was born and then the scene had changed. Suddenly, the Reverend was handing the baby to me. We were all in church. Martha and Hank were there. Martha didn’t look like she just gave birth. They stood like they were godparents to the child I was carrying in my arms. It felt like that, without anyone telling me, I knew the child was abandoned by her parents. They all gave me consoling smiles. The child now depended on me, it was all up to me to take care of her and give her a future. I felt complete and I felt she belonged to me all my life. I cannot describe the exact feeling but I knew then when I saw her that she was meant for me, that I waited for her and this was how it was supposed to be. I fell in love with her, she gave me contentment and the happiness I’ve never had for such a long time. I woke up light-hearted and since had caused an indelible smile on my lips.

I did my morning chores at the barn and had cooked quite a storm till noon. There will be enough food for lunch and dinner for the rest of the coming week. In the afternoon I found myself standing at the door of the Reverend’s house. I only meant to bring some eggs and milk for them, which I often do, but I must have carried a look on my face then that he smiled and invited me in.

Mrs. Case left us to talk in the parlor. He inquired about the farm and I started to tell him that I didn’t get much from what he said on his last visit. I finally learned that the girl’s name is Olivia Dunne. She is the daughter of his close friend from Denver. Her mother had just recently died and now she found herself inappropriately pregnant. They come from a modest family and her father is a respectable figure in their parish community.

I asked him why he chose me although in the back of my mind I had assumed it is because there aren’t many of us unmarried men here.

“Son, you both have lost someone very dear to you. I thought maybe this was a sign that you two were supposed to cross paths. Thomas could have married his daughter to anyone over there but he called on me and somehow I only thought of you.”

I was fortunate that he did not rush an answer from me then. It is one thing about the Reverend, he does not put pressure on anyone, he lets things fall into place. He even encouraged that I should think and pray about it and that he will understand if I eventually turn him down. Of course I am aware that even if he can wait, the girl’s condition and father cannot. I have determined that I’ll give Reverend an answer by Tuesday, a full week after he came to me. I want to put all this behind me. I think it’s the rightful thing to do. I just pray that I would somehow get some sign and that whatever decision I end up with then will be the right one.


Friday June 23, 1944

I had expected that the end of the week will be such a busy day. I just had the camp workers this week and since yesterday we’ve all worked double time to harvest the beets before the weekend. Next year, with the extra money I’ve saved from the last two years will need to be invested in purchasing a machine that will help the farm harvest beets faster and use less manual labor in the process. If the workers are still able to help next year, I will be able to use them to plant more crops in other parts of the farm. At present, the beets are the toughest produce to harvest but will bring in the best price. I’ll just have to really account for every expense so that even if I do make a big purchase next spring, I will still have some money left in the bank.

I’ve helped in this farm since I can remember and now have been running it solo for three years. It’s been a learning experience the last few years and Hank had been a great mentor for me especially since I have to learn every area of keeping the farm profitable. The operation is so much easier now. It used to be such a daunting task. Although I’ve worked here even before I graduated from high school, running the farm by myself is a different matter than when Pa and Daniel were here. I think now that everything is almost as predictable as the weather, I see myself getting home early and feeling some kind of void in my life.

I know Martha and Hank have been worried about my lack of interest in getting married. It is not only them but some people in our community as well, like Mrs. Pratt and Mrs. Case and of course the Reverend. I know they all care for me. It’s not that this has not crossed my mind. After we had lost Daniel, I have mourned him so much. Between the two of us, he was the one who had the sociable and charismatic personality. If he had lived, he probably would be married and with kids by now. He held so much promise. I now felt all the weight of carrying our legacy and name onwards.

I’ve always admired my parents for the marriage they had and have dreamed of having one just like it. I admit, living and working in this farm makes it almost impossible to find the one person I can share my life with. I do try by going to dances and church potlucks. There aren’t really many of them left since the war started to begin with, they are either committed or already married and of course she can’t be just anyone, she has to be the right one. I still believe that one day I’ll meet her and I will just know it in my heart that she’s the one. I do.


Thursday, June 22, 1944

I have a load of people from the camp who came today to help in the fields. This was the best time to get more supplies from La Junta. The camp people have been a big help especially as the harvest season nears.

The harvest since the war started had been very fruitful and the return the best since. The demand had surpassed my expectations, sometimes more than what the farms can even produce here in a season. Like payment for what was lost, I can’t help but feel that this is the price of losing Daniel to the war. It’s a tough exchange. I still lay awake at night thinking if I had just not agreed to his plan, he would still be here, running the farm. He would have had a future ahead of him, and a better chance to have the best of both worlds.

Then while I was driving to town, I wondered what Daniel would have done with Rev. Case’s proposal. I laughed it off, I think he wouldn’t even have to be in such a situation for he would have been easily married by now.

I came home today feeling the loneliness of the house. It was a bit disturbing that this didn’t bother me at all before, even after all the deaths in the family. I had welcomed the tranquility and the emptiness of it all. It had mirrored and sympathized with what I felt inside. Today the silence was deafening.

All day I kept myself busy and have welcomed all the work that was waiting for me at the farm and had looked forward to my outing into town. I have accomplished so much today at the farm, even seeking out the foreman who worked my fields so we can plan at which part of the fields they’ll have to work on for the next couple of weeks. Keeping busy means less dwelling or thinking about Rev. Case and the girl from Denver – what was her name?

The minute I stepped into the house Martha’s words echoed in my head. I wanted to disprove her claim that I don’t leave the farm even if I knew she meant this not in the literal sense. It troubled me that it took this to make me realize what my life has become. How can I have settled into a solitary life?


Wednesday, June 21, 1944

I woke up today thinking yesterday was a dream. Maybe I had dreamt it all. I value my peace here in the farm but sometimes, living alone has its disadvantages. I decided to drop by Martha’s at noon.

Franklin must have sensed my anxiety and had been following me all morning long. I am glad for the companionship. He is my reliable sounding board since I found myself living alone in my parents’ farm.

Martha didn’t look surprised when I ended up at her kitchen for lunch. I normally come over on Thursdays and today was indeed unusual for me to be at her house. I expected a remark but instead she followed me with her eyes. I thought she was assessing my demeanor today and I gave her a wry smile. I think we’ve both been quiet for sometime. My mind was distracted by a lot of thinking and only when Martha had cleared her throat and handed me my sandwich did I remember that I was not the only person in the house.

“Has Reverend Case been by your way lately?” I heard her start.
“He has, how do you know?”
“I saw him two days ago and he had asked me about how you might react to something he was planning to discuss with you that will affect your future”

So I did not dream it after all.

I guess my silence prompted her to say something. I saw sincere concern in her eyes. Martha has never been the sister who meddles and I thank her for that, however, just this once I am glad that she had said something for I hardly know where to begin. She sat next to me and I can’t help but remember that how she does this reminds me so much of our mother.

“When Rev. Case first mentioned it to me, I cannot make anything of it. I can’t even consider that he would even propose such an arrangement but he is obliged to help his friend in Denver, who I was told was also an old friend of his whose wife just recently passed.” She hesitated and placed a hand on my shoulder. “I know it’s not an easy decision to make and it will be wholly up to you to accept it or not. Do not feel obligated but do weigh the significance and value of what he proposed to you Ray”

“I can’t believe I’d even consider an arranged marriage Martha. Down the line, I know I want to get married, but I’ve been a traditional guy and I want a marriage just like Pa and Ma had. I can’t imagine finding the right person through this manner at all.”

She was silent. There. I spoke what I had in my mind. Somehow my thoughts are becoming more coherent now and I am glad that I came by today.

Something struck me though with what Martha had imparted to me on my way out the door. “Ray, I wonder how you’d find the right person if you hardly even leave the farm, maybe this is a revelation that may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, you never know.”

I never thought to think of it this way – that this could be a blessing in disguise. When I was able to voice out my feelings this afternoon to Martha, I thought I can finally get this behind me but now I find myself contemplating the proposal again. What if? I prayed about this tonight, I hope God will find a way to guide me through this.

Tuesday, June 20, 1944

Today had been a strange day.

Reverend Case came to see me today at the farm. I was in the barn and I heard a sound coming up the driveway. I walked out and saw him getting out of his car. The look and the sight signaled some feelings I have been trying to forget but now it hit me full force and reminded me of the time he came over and delivered to me Daniel’s terrible news. I can hardly remember how I came through that day but Rev. Case’s image was forever imprinted in my brain. Naturally, my heart starting pounding, save my sister and her family, I’ve got no one else to lose these days. Did something happen to Martha? to Hank? the kids? I recited a quick heartfelt prayer that they are fine.

My feet refused to move to greet him, I was rooted to the ground, waiting for the big punch. He came to me with a hint of a smile and it startled me. It gave me some relief for even though he wore a hesitant smile it was still a smile and that it somehow assured me that my initial feelings were not what I had feared. We somehow ended up in my living room and I offered him some co’cola. What happened next I am still trying to put into words here….

He said he had a proposition that he wanted me to consider. He proceeded to tell me about a girl in Denver who needed to get married to save her family’s reputation. This girl, who I hardly know, is being recommended to me by the Reverend to be my wife. I could hardly say a word for I didn’t know how to react to such an offer. I heard him say he understood that I would need time to think this over. I remember nodding but I was trying to overcome the shock that was overwhelming me. Then I heard him say that he’ll be by in a week and we can talk again.

As it is, I am trying to remember what he had told me about the girl after he left. I had worked hard and late today because of the unplanned visit. I am now not only physically tired but also mentally exhausted. I hope sleep will claim me and I will have a better mind tomorrow to think this through more rationally than I am able to tonight.